Soviet Epoch: Between Utopia and Reality


The exposition is dedicated to the most actual and disputable time of the Russian history – the Soviet period. Over 1,000 exhibits from the collection of our Museum and state and private archives are displayed in six halls. The Museum interpretation of the subject represents the main stages of the Soviet state system formation (from 1917 till 1985) and the most important elements of social and private life of Soviet people. The first part of the exposition reveals the mechanism of Stalin’s power in taking full control over all spheres of life in the country. The second part emphasizes the gradual overcoming of Stalin’s heritage by the Soviet society.

Official doctrines and goals of Stalin’s “building of socialism in one country”, Khrushchev’s “full-scale building of communism” and Brezhnev’s idea of “developed socialism” are compared to real life of people in a huge country for a period of 70 years. Characters of the exposition are the Communist Party leaders and common people, the so-called “udarniki” (that was the name for all foremost communist-way workers) and outstanding scientists, people from NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) and KGB (the Committee for State Security) and GULAG prisoners, dissidents and councilors of the USSR leaders, workers of official culture and representatives of Soviet underground.

You will see personal belongings of different historical figures, for example, Stalin’s companions-in-arms Sergo Ordzhonikidze, Мichael Kalinin, Кlim Voroshilov; state leaders of the following years Georgy Malenkov, Nikita Khrushchev, Anastas Mikoyan, Ekaterina Furtseva (the only woman in the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU), marshal Georgy Zhukov. Very interesting and at the same time tragic are the exposition sectors devoted to the struggle in the top echelons of political power in the USSR. The deadly clash of inter-party opposition, contradictions among Stalin’s political heirs which lasted for many years and ended when Nikita Khrushchev came to power, the October coup d’etat of 1964 that led to Leonid Brezhnev’s power show that very often personal ambitions of the Kremlin elite were hidden behind high-principled reasons.

Materials of the exposition tell us about the country’s economic development, forced rates of industrialization and collectivization of agriculture carried out at the expense of sufferings of millions of people and destruction of the traditional mode of their lives. Large-scale socialistic construction projects of the 1960s-1970s were of great importance from economic and defensive points of view, but often they also turned out to be colossal unreasonable waste of material and human resources.

Reconstructed interiors of a kitchen in a communal flat (a flat in which kitchen and toilet facilities are shared by a number of tenants) and a barrack for builders of giant plants in the first five-year plans give quite an adequate picture how the most part of the USSR population lived in the 1930s-1940s. With the help of real household goods that were in common use in Soviet families in the 1950s-1960s we managed to reconstruct the situation of moving a separate flat in one of new five-storey houses (they got the name “khrushchevka”, after N. Khrushchev). The items remind us of burdens of life during Stalin’s time and of significant growth of people’s well-being in the period of “developed socialism”. But later it turned into deficit, constant lines for food and other goods, and dependence on authorities in getting social welfare.

Posters and slogans, artistic depictions of Soviet leaders, and mass consumption goods with Soviet symbolism show us methods that were widely spread for the propaganda of the new state system and creation of the power cult.

Leaflets of inter-party opposition, diaries, denunciations, and private letters to Stalin including the ones written by political prisoners reveal both enthusiastic estimation of the country’s successes and people’s views on the Soviet reality which were very far from propaganda stock phrases.

Sections devoted to GULAG prisoners and dissident movement are very important at the exposition. Our visitors can see objects used by prisoners’ in everyday life and evidences of their underground creative work. Among our exhibits there is a quilted jacket of a Soviet political prisoner of the 1970s; unique documents concerning searches in dissidents’ homes, their arrests and taking them to mental hospitals; and also medical supplies used for the “treatment” of such “patients”.

Numerous and various “samizdat” publications (this name means a system of printing and distribution of banned or dissident works - political, literary, musical) tell about attitude of mind and opinions of well-educated people and the most politically active part of the Soviet society in the 1950s-1980s.


Reconstruction of a boiler-house revives the atmosphere in which unofficial culture was born and developed.

The exposition supposes active visitors’ participation in understanding the USSR’s history. Special interactive zones will let you learn what was hidden behind the scenes of official propaganda campaigns. For instance, you can take a receiver of a street public telephone (quite common for the 1960s-1970s) and hear anecdotes about Soviet leaders.

“We are born to turn fairy-tales into reality” – for many years communists tried to persuade millions of Soviet people to believe in these slogan. But in the end, real life proved that people were hostages of a utopian dream to create an ideal model for the state system. The gap between slogans declared by the authorities and everyday life of people gradually became bigger and bigger. At the same time, the technical and economical lag of the USSR from developed western countries was increasing.

Death of Soviet leaders in the early 1980s (when three General Secretaries – Leonid Brezhnev, Yury Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko - died one after another) became a symbol of decline of the whole Soviet system. The country was on the threshold of changes…

Audioguides in Russian, English, German and French



Публикация от: 25.06.2015 18:19:16